Inexpensive splints worn nightly can reduce the pain of hand osteoarthritis, a chronic ailment that affects a majority of older adults, one study shows.
“It’s a well-tolerated, safe and cheap intervention,” said rheumatologist Dr. Fiona Watt.
Watt, from the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis at the University of Oxford, led the new study. She and her colleagues tested custom-made splints on London clinic patients who suffered painful and deforming hand osteoarthritis.
Up to 70 percent of adults 55 years and older have hand osteoarthritis, the authors write in the journal Rheumatology.
The condition can include episodes of persistent and debilitating pain, limit hand use, and erode quality of life.
Previous research has shown splints cut hand arthritis pain. Another study found that hand pain was halved for patients who wore a long and rigid splint every night for a year.
In the current study, hand therapists fashioned rigid splints out of $5 to $6 worth of thermoplastic for one arthritic finger joint per patient, and patients wore the splints nightly while sleeping for three months, Watt said.
Twenty-six patients, mostly women, were included in the study. Of the 23 who completed the study, 17, or 74 percent, reported reduced pain after wearing the splints for three months, the study found.
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